Saturday, March 30, 2013

Knopf publishing house has scored another coup.  The Selected Letters of Willa Cather , a collection of personal letters that most Cather fans thought would never be seen in print, will be published in April.  I haven't been this excited since Mark Twain's autobiography was published.
While it is always interesting to read the musings of talented and widely admired authors, it is especially so in the case of Willa Cather.  Miss Cather not only destroyed most of her personal correspondence during a low period prior to her death, but also specified in her will that information of this type would never
be shared in print.  Now, after the death of the last direct relative of Willa Cather and with the permission of the Willa Cather Foundation, many long forgotten and never collected letters will be shared with the literary world.  While Miss Cather wrote wonderful stories set on the Great Plains, her personal relationships have also garnered some attention.  She was actually buried far from the Great Plains that she did such justice to in print, in the gentle mountain town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, a town with special meaning in her personal life.  We who love her writing hope to gain some insight into the woman, her relationships and reactions to the pre and post WWI world around her.  Thank you Knopf for shining a light on Willa Cather.   

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Wild Olive Cucina Italiana is a culinary gem thriving on Maybank Hwy on Johns Island.  I would imagine that you have heard about this restaurant and, like me, always meant to try it.  Now, you must do so.  The pasta is artfully prepared and quite delicious, stuffed with Keegan-Filion chicken (Agnolotti), ricotta (Gnocchi) and butternut squash and spiced pecans (Ravioli).  The pairings of meat and pasta are creative and also quite tasty, as in the chicken parmesan in marinara sauce which is paired with cavatelli alfredo.  Two types of sauce on one plate- a really great idea!
My favorite part of the meal, as I am a chocoholic, was the chocolate pistachio custard, which is more like a creamy, whipped milk chocolate bar, covered with lovely, green pistachio cream and pistachio nuts.  It was served with two thin and crispy biscotti, which I tasted by dipping it in the custard (very good) and brought home to dip in my coffee (better). Our very nice server told us that it is a customer favorite and I can see why.  The Wild Olive...worth a trip to Johns Island.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I've stumbled upon another great mystery writer from the 1800's...
Anna Katherine Green.  A writer of short stories and novels, she is considered the mother of the detective novel.  I don't know how I overlooked her work, but I am making up for that now!                       One of Ms. Green's recurring detective characters, Violet Strange, (a precursor to Christie's Miss Marple) is a beautiful debutante, who boldly solves her complicated cases- something quite unusual for a 19th century woman.  Two of my favorite Violet Strange stories are The House of Clocks and Missing; Page Thirteen. Her first novel, The Leavenworth Case, written in 1878, was so good that the men of that time doubted it could have been written by a woman.  Her work was noticed and praised by another one of my favorite 19th century authors, Wilkie Collins (a contemporary of Charles Dickens).  I am currently reading and enjoying The Leavenworth Case, which has Sir Arthur Conan Doyle overtones, years before Sherlock Holmes arrived on the literary scene.  For fun plot twists and skillful sleuthing, try Anna Katherine Green.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

If you are blessed to live in the Lowcountry, and even if you are not, you will be mesmerized by Mary Whyte's book, Down Bohicket Road.  Her story of getting to know and love the beautiful people and places on Johns Island is told through lyrical watercolor paintings and tender words.
No one can drive down Bohicket Road without feeling the pull of the marsh, the farmlands and their guardians, the people and live oaks of Johns Island.
It's hard to choose a favorite among Mary Whyte's subjects, but her paintings of Lilly and Tesha are wonderfully tender and compelling.  I read Mary's book in one Sunday afternoon sitting, but I keep coming back to the paintings of her friend, Alfreda.  What I love about Whyte's images of Alfreda is the light of love, warmth and kindness which shines in her eyes.  How lucky we are that Mary Whyte has allowed us into her heart for Johns Island and the folks Down Bohicket Road.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts has created the best way to celebrate St. Patrick's offering the Irish Car Bomb doughnut!  The plate bearing them was empty when I arrived this morning at 10:30am, but, after a brief moment of panic on my part, more were discovered on the tray, fresh from the kitchen.  The Irish Car Bomb is a puffy, cloud-like doughnut, filled with a delectable cream, lightly flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream. The top is covered with a Guinness Stout glaze...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Have you ever strolled upper King St. during the evening, and paused to stare, gape and covet the kitchens at SieMatic Kitchen Designs?  Many times?  I thought so- so have I.                                                           I was recently on upper King at lunchtime and was pleased to be able to actually step inside. 
For all of you Foodies, kitchen junkies and chefs out there, this store is nirvana.  SieMatic is a German company, known for clean lines, functionality and beauty of design.  They did not disappoint.
Each aspect of their specially designed kitchens is meant to please, from the textured, metal surface under the sink (very practical in the event of water or cleaning product leaks) to the adjustable height wooden cutting board that slides across the sink above it.  The cabinet drawers are self-closing, the lighting touch and motion sensitive and the corner base cabinets are a sight to behold.   Every want or need of anyone, be they chef or cooking novice, who steps into their kitchens is met.  
All of their work is custom built and designed, as explained to me by the extremely knowledgable, friendly and helpful sales manager.  The prices are in the higher end but well worth the quality and craftsmanship received.
I will never look at another kitchen the same way.... SieMatic is the ultimate kitchen.

I am a lover of biscuits.  I freely admit it.  I just had the best biscuit on the planet, or at least in my charmed corner of Charleston, at Bull Street Market at 60 Bull St.  Although most of their bread comes from Normandy Farms, they bake their biscuits in-house.  Mine was a warm, basil and goat cheese biscuit, which I ate in tiny bites so that it would last longer.  It was crispy on the outside; fluffy and tender on the inside.  The basil was fragrant and not overdone and the goat cheese was plentiful, creamy and just so delicious.  Run, don't walk, to the corner of Smith and Bull Streets for the best basil & goat cheese biscuits in Charleston.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Prompted by my love of all things Victorian, I have just read A.E.W. Mason's 
The Four Feathers.
Based on a Mason short story, his book tells the story of courage, perceived cowardice and redemption.      
The setting alternates between England, Ireland and the middle East.  England's military presence in the Sudan provides many interesting opportunities for adventure for the six main characters, comrades in arms all.  A story of honor above all, this book was made into seven movies over the years, the best being the 1939 version which features Ralph Richardson.  As with many works of classic literature, the screenwriter takes many liberties with the story line, so I suggest reading the book before viewing any of the movie versions.  The silent version from 1929 may be worth viewing, as it seems to follow the book's plot a bit closer.  I often find that is true with silent films.
The Four Feathers was an engrossing, quick read with an element of romance and a large dose of middle eastern 1880's military intrigue.   Loved it!